RA: Bathrooms: A small step towards making the big accommodations for transgender individuals

In the article, “Making Bathrooms More ‘Accommodating’” Emily Bazelon examines society’s inability to make accommodations in certain settings, such as the bathroom, for those in society that identify as transgender. She begins by noting recent action taken by the citizens of Houston to reject a proposed ordinance that prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity along with other criteria. Residents voted against this proposal on the premise that they did not want men in the women’s bathrooms. Bazelon goes on to counter these opinions by pointing out many school districts across the nation create an inclusive space for students that identity as the opposite sex. Even though these schools manage to be accommodating when it comes to interactions, for example using their preferred pronouns and allowing them to play on the sports teams they choose, the bathrooms still pose an issue. Bazelon critiques the school’s’ ability to create an inclusive environment for these students.

When presenting the definition of the word “accommodate,” Bazelon suggests that it has a “compulsory aspect — it’s a word that involves moving over to make room for other people, whether you want to or not.” By providing the historical context of the Americans with Disabilities Act from 1960, she suggests that our country has managed to make accommodations on the past, but for some reason are struggling to do so in the present. Even though these adjustments are necessary, Bazelon believes that they perpetuate this idea of “normal and the other.” It is important that as a society we develop a sense of inclusion and normalness harmoniously. This has proved a difficult task as a result of our historical development. Bazelon notes that since the Victorian Era men and women have been separated in many spheres, including the bathroom. Certain standards for how women conduct themselves in the setting have created an exclusive “enclave.” Bazelon theorizes that this construct has been threatened by allowing the “male anatomy” to enter this secluded space. Women have a hard time not seeing trans women as men. By making this argument Bazelon highlights an underlying problem facing the transgender community: mental inclusion. Even if accommodations are made in the bathrooms that is only one barrier that has been taken down. Society as whole needs to shift their thinking about the way they view those of the transgender community. If some can not even look past allowing those into the bathrooms how can they create an inclusive society.

Bazelon concludes her article with an anecdote about a 12-year old transgender girl. Her school allows her to change in the locker room with the other girls in her class. She says that this makes her feel normal and there is no difference between her and them. Allowing her to do so is a key decision on the school’s part. This gives her the ability to be a part of the gender she identifies with. It is one step closer to creating an inclusive space, and hopefully a more inclusive society as a whole.

 

Works Cited

Bazelon, Emily. “Making Bathrooms More ‘Accommodating’.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 21 Nov. 2015. Web. 23 Oct. 2016.

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